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Uxbridge and South Ruislip candidates push for votes in tight race

The weather hasn’t deterred either of Uxbridge and South Ruislip’s frontrunners as they continue to pound the streets looking for much-needed votes. The seat is one of London’s most marginal with a razor-thin 495-vote majority separating Conservative and Labour candidates.

The pavements of Uxbridge and South Ruislip have become a well-worn battleground for incumbent Steve Tuckwell and his challenger Danny Beales as almost a year ago to the day they were competing for the same constituency after ex-Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s shock exit from Parliament.

In July last year, the Tories saw his healthy 7,000 vote majority cut back to the bone – a result that although disappointing for Labour has made Uxbridge and South Ruislip a prime target at this election in an area that hasn’t seen a representative of the party in charge for half a century.

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As polls show a national shift towards Labour and away from the Conservatives pollsters seem even more confident about predicting a Labour victory in the traditionally Tory seat. Political prediction site Parallel Parliament places Labour in poll position, giving them an 85.7 per cent chance of overturning the Tories’ thin majority.

However, as Steve Tuckwell was quick to point out when questioned about the polls, he wasn’t predicted to win last time and still pulled off a narrow victory. Indeed, both candidates don’t appear to be counting their chickens with Danny Beales knowing all too well the sting of electoral defeat.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) caught up with both candidates as they enter the final stages of the pre-election calendar, finding out what is different from a year ago, their opinions on local issues and what their tenures would look like.

What’s different this time around?

Steve Tuckwell: “I’m working incredibly hard to earn every vote. I wasn’t expected to win the by-election, I was 22 points behind in the polls leading into that by-election and I came out with a majority of 495. During my time in parliament, I have served this community incredibly hard, focusing on the priorities of people in this community and I will continue with those priorities taking that message into the next general election.”

Uxbridge and South Ruislip candidates push for votes in tight race Harrow Online
Steve Tuckwell, Conservative candidate for Uxbridge and South Ruislip. Permission for use by all LDRS partners. Credit: Rory Bennett

Danny Beales: “Think general elections are a completely different beast to by-elections. At a by-election, they are often sending a message of some sort, whatever that message may be, but ultimately while the MP changes, the government doesn’t immediately change.”

“In a general election people are talking about who they want in government, who they want the Prime Minister to be, who they want running the economy. All those issues, for five years at least, are gonna affect their country, their economy their public services, their family finances – that’s what’s on the ballot.”

“People are reflecting on the 14 years of this government and scratching their heads thinking ‘hang on a minute what’s actually gotten better? I can’t think of anything.”

“You have [NHS] waiting lists going up not down, the economy isn’t growing still, immigration concerns aren’t met and [people’s] personal finances are getting worse week on week. So that’s the conversation we are having. We are in with a really good chance of winning this seat but like I think I said at the time of the by-election it will be close.”

“[The by-election] was disappointing. I was disappointed not to have won because we felt that we could have sent a really powerful about the government’s need to change course.”

“They almost lost this traditional safe haven, by a couple of hundred and they turned it into some massive statement about their record…[it’s] devoid of reality.”

ULEZ

Steve Tuckwell: “As you can imagine on thousands of doors as is my team and it’s still anger and frustration on the doorstep. People have been devastated by the impact financially. Businesses have folded as a result or businesses have had to charge more.

“There is still a lot of anger and frustration at ULEZ and what could come next.

“The anger has intensified because are now living the consequences of the expansion of ULEZ and it has hurt them.

“We have seen first-hand how the mayor is just anti-outer London and he will do everything he can to disrupt the lives of people out here in Uxbridge and South Ruislip and indeed elsewhere in outer London. He’s got a Labour candidate from Camden in his pocket, who will be a devastation for our community if he’s elected.”

Danny Beales: “In the by-election, I was clear that I thought it was an issue. I wasn’t happy about the way it was implemented, I thought more needed to be done to support people.

“[Told people during the by-election] ‘if I am the MP here’s what I’ll do. I’ll push for more scrappage, I’ll push for more support, I’ll push for a delay but I’m not going to promise you it won’t happen because that’s not within my power.’ The Tories took a different approach. They said ignore everything else, all of our record, your mortgage, all of these other problems, we will make you one promise if vote for us and we get in we will stop it. They got in and they didn’t stop it.”

“People are angry about it. If I was affected I would be angry about it.”

Police station

Steve Tuckwell: “Two weeks before the by-election last year Sadiq Khan promised to keep our police station open here in [Uxbridge]. His candidate from Camden also claimed credit for reopening the police station and guess what the police station is still closed. So I’m campaigning to have that police station reopened so we have a full custody suite and a full 24/7 front counter.”

Danny Beales: “I think Steve is confused again because he’s put out leaflets saying he’s saved it, it was saved only for a political reason, and that this has not been saved so over time he’s said completely different things.”

“Let’s set the facts straight. The police station was being considered for closure and being sold off as part of the Met’s estate strategy across London because of underfunding by the government. Boris Johnson, the previous MP and Mayor of London, closed a lot of police stations and fire stations including here in Hillingdon. The Met’s budget has been slashed by the government.

“Uxbridge was being considered as part of a sell-off, I didn’t think that was right, residents did think that was right, the residents association was campaigning to keep the station open. With the campaign happening here locally, Sadiq Khan wrote to the Met Commissioner and said the station should remain open and should not be sold off and here today year later we still have the police station operational and it has not been sold off.

“The police are there, police cars are there, they work out of Uxbridge Police Station. I think sometimes the Tories like to pretend that somehow it is not a functional police station. It is.”

Hillingdon Hospital

“Hillingdon Hospital, a place where I was born, a place where I was raised, a place where my kids were born. That work has started: the enabling works have started, the boardings are up, the demolition phase for the new hospital is starting very very soon, the funding is in place, the planning permission is in place, so I’m really looking forward to, if I’m reelected, working with the redevelopment team at Hillingdon Hospital to get that state of the art hospital built.”

“Since I have been a member of parliament for 11 months I have developed a really close relationship with the development team. I have talked [about it] in the House of Commons, I have asked the Prime Minister about Hillingdon Hospital so I’m really raising the profile. I’m really looking forward to continuing that work if reelected.”

Uxbridge and South Ruislip candidates push for votes in tight race Harrow Online
Hillingdon Hospital. Image: Google Maps

Danny Beales: “It never being built is a risk at the moment because it doesn’t seem like the Tories are being honest with us. Time and time again we are told it is being delivered, it’s been funded. But every time you ask the hospital, same as now, they say well no we don’t have £600m, this is all available from freedom of information requests. [The hospital says]: ‘we are no funded, we don’t have a date of construction, we don’t even have a construction company on board.”

“First of all I would be honest with people about where we are at with the construction of the hospital as I always have been and secondly I will be a real champion [of it]. Fortunately, we are in a position where the Labour shadow secretary, hopefully, the future Health Secretary, Wes Streeting has committed to build and fund Hillingdon Hospital.”

Resident’s biggest concerns

Steve Tuckwell: “People genuinely fear a Labour MP.  We’ve not had a Labour MP here since 1966, I believe. People are genuinely fearful of having a Labour MP in the pockets of Sadiq Khan. Again, the ULEZ expansion, it’s happened, but people are now dealing with the consequences. People fear what is going to happen next.

“The metropolitan police is the only police force in the country that has failed to hit its recruitment target and there is no surprise that crime in London is actually going up while crime in the rest of the country is actually going down. I have been speaking to businesses that have suffered from shoplifting as a direct consequence of there not being enough police on the streets of Uxbridge and South Ruislip because the Mayor of London has failed.”

Danny Beales: “We have heard it in the press and we heard it at the doors. The public is absolutely fed up with this government, can’t point to one thing that’s got better and are quite angry they are being lied to. Hospitals are being built when they are not, everyone’s taxes are lower when they are higher, everything, everything Rushi Sunak seems to be saying is completely the opposite of people’s reality.”

Uxbridge Library

Steve Tuckwell: “The Labour candidate is telling mistruths by saying it’s closing. It’s not. It’s moving 258 paces further up the High Street. I get that there were protests so I took the decision to listen to the people who contacted me it was the number one topic in my inbox. Rather than stand and tell lies on the High Street, I took those concerns into the council leader’s office where the whole scheme was redesigned and I take absolute credit for this redesign.

“It’s still going to be the biggest library in Uxbridge.”

“So a 6-floor library is not fit for purpose, some of those floors aren’t accessible some of them aren’t even used. [The new library] is going to have full access to everybody, it going to have enhanced services, it going to have access to other council services and it going to be in the centre of Uxbridge [in the civic centre].”

“There are no difficulties whatsoever [with being both an MP and a councillor] because I use myself to be the voice of the people that contacted me. Many many people contacted me with legitimate concerns about Uxbridge Library so I took those concerns into the office of the people who make those decisions.”

Danny Beales: “Unfortunately we didn’t succeed so far in getting [Steve Tuckwell and the Conservative council] to rethink the closure of Uxbridge Library. What people have told me is they want an MP who can stand up with them on these issues and who can represent them fairly and without bias.

“I think the problem that Steve is a councillor, an MP and has another and I think it would be better if we had a local MP here with one role representing people whether that be with City Hall, the council, and the government and that the kind of MP I would be. As for the library, I understand there are still decisions around planning and I continue to work with residents on that.”

“I would use my role as an MP to ask the council why they think closing down this amazing, purpose-built library is a good idea and if it is just about funding, why haven’t they bid for leveling-up funding.”

Polls

Steve Tuckwell: “I’m not complacent in any way and I’m working incredibly hard; 20-25-odd thousand steps a day is proof of how hard I’m working.”

“If you read the polls I’m scheduled to lose, but I was scheduled to lose last time.”

“My role is to take the voice of Uxbridge to Westminister, not the voice of Westminister to Uxbridge.”

Danny Beales: “The ultimate choice is do they want a Conservative government or do they want a change and a Labour government which is the most likely outcome and I do think we have a good chance of delivering a Labour government and delivering that change that people are saying they really want.

“Categorically [the Conservatives] have failed, they have failed this constituency for 14 years, they have failed the country. My job is to get people to put their trust in us for the first time and that I will be that hard-working local MP.”

“What I’m saying is that I will be a hard-working MP that gets stuff done, I don’t think people want someone that is just going to say some words over and over or just say ‘I’m the most local and I care the most about the area’ the job of an MP is actually to do something. If you look at [Steve Tuckwell’s] record there isn’t one. He campaigned on one issue [ULEZ] which he hasn’t done anything about and hasn’t delivered change.”

While it seems as though it is set that it will be one of these two candidates that snags the seat there are other people running. These include:

UK Independence Party,
Geoff Courtenay

Social Democratic Party,
Steve Gardner

Green Party,
Sarah Green

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition,
Gary Harbord

Liberal Democrat,
Ian Rex-Hawkes

Reform UK,
Tim Wheeler

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